Ethiopia – In and Out
We are excited to present photographer Alexia Liakounakou’s new series, In and Out. In the project, Alexia documents interior and exterior spaces of a changing but also timely Ethiopia. The series captures the contrasts between private and public life in a rapidly changing urban Ethiopian environment.
Alexia has since 2010 been a regular visitor to Ethiopia. Here she has explored Addis and its surroundings and documented among other things the incredible Circus Debre Berhan. See her coverage of the circus for Think Africa Press here and more photos of the Debre Berhan artists in our interviews with Vincent Moon and Jacob Kirkegaard.
Ethiopia – In and Out
Text and photos by Alexia Liakounakou
As change is the only constant in life, there’s something undeniably attractive about photographing it, obvious or impalpable as it may be. My visits to Addis Ababa and small towns in its periphery unearthed a drive to capture stills of fast-paced development and a construction boom which constantly remaps living patterns. The outside is a burgeoning, unstoppable force of change.
But what about the inside? Step into a home, and the stillness becomes comforting, relaxed, welcoming. Even in the humblest of houses, warmth gushes out of little decorative details: plastic flowers, an old coffee machine, colorful blankets, religious icons, floral curtains, or newspapers reused as temporary wallpaper. Even in the very center of the capital, small oases of calm dot the landscape. Medhane Alem church, for example, or the track and gardens of Addis Ababa University, provide a certain exotic charm to an otherwise noisy and chaotic surrounding. I am perpetually drawn by lush green spaces wherever I go, especially when they are found in little nooks in the midst of city sprawls.
In my six intermittent visits to the country, the contrasting powers of change and stillness have been pulling me from both sides. Living in a house on Bole Road, I witnessed the metamorphosis of this main artery very palpably. Before its reconstruction, I sat on the balcony and photographed the people, the cars and the minibuses below. Across me, a lone building of around twelve storeys stood in the midst of a small garden, some trees and the hazy morning dew.
This was in 2010. The next year, the road was punctured and its insides surfaced, dirty and dusty, to take over the landscape. Pipes, steel, water, cement, trucks and construction workers paraded below, and traffic disappeared. A huge roundabout started being formed on the left part of my balcony view. In 2012, new buildings suddenly popped up across me, as if they were built overnight.
Leaving Addis to visit Debre Berhan, a town also affected by roadworks in 2013, I began photographing ‘insides’ more robustly and entered homes of friends, most of them part of the Circus Debre Berhan troupe, to photograph their homes. The result is this project, In and Out – a personal testament to the contrasting beauties of living between interior and exterior spaces amidst local and global change.
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